Down the road from me a few miles ( a few more kilometers) is the lovely town of Rickmansworth. There was a settlement in the area during the Stone Age and it has had many spellings of its name since its inception as a proper town. The Domesday Book names it the Manor of Prichemaresworde with a population of 200. But the most important mention of Rickmansworth is at the beginning of ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ by Douglas Adams. A must read for mad people like me. A small girl from Rickmansworth figures out what the world really needs.
Of all the things Rickmansworth is famous for, the best is saved for an entire week near the end of May known as Ricky Week. This year was the 62nd annual week of fun and frolic….teas at churches, free bowls lessons, more church teas, learning how to make crafty stuff, a bellringers’ open evening, oldie tyme dances and bargains at local shops. A parade kicks off the festivities and then off it all goes.
At the end of the week long celebrations is the annual Rickmansworth Canal Festival, a tribute to the Grand Union Canal meandering through the town and the boating heritage attributed to it. The official title is ‘The Rickmansworth (Canal and Environmental) Festival. Narrow and widebeam boats are 2, 3 and 4 abreast, moored along the canal between two locks. Boaters go out of their way to decorate their crafts. There are old working boats that have been preserved and refitted. One sold books and gift items. Phil, my fuel guy, was there on his old boat. Mia Tug, usually moored in my marina, attended. The two Tonys were there, father and son. They own Mia Tug. For some reason, their boat was wedged between larger boats, the front facing the shore. The Tonys were not amused.
Boats engender many characters. Some are flambouyant while others would rather remain semi-anonymous, going about their boating business in a quiet and dignified manner. I leave you to choose which is which.
Other than boats, various attractions drew a large crowd on a day that was forecast as producing masses of rain. Instead, it was quite muggy and stayed dry until we left around 3:30. A Dakota flyby was supposed to happen, but the weather in Leeds was too windy for the old planes to get to Ricky. It was postponed until the next day. Instead, we contented ourselves with a section for rides and amusements (a midway), stalls where merchants plied their hippy wears (boaters and friends of boaters are so Bohemian), food stalls of every description, a main stage where acts from Morris Dancers to Rock Bands perform, demonstrations of medieval sword and spear fighting by a man with a bullet on his head and….featuring various local agencies like the Fire Brigade and the Police who carry on public relations. Never enough time to see and do it all.
In Britain, festivals of one kind or another are part of each calendar year. Music festivals abound, the most famous being Glastonbury (22-26th of June), the Isle of Wight music festival (The UK’s Woodstock) at the beginning of June, the Fairport Convention music festival in Cropredy and so many more. There are 12 canal and boat festivals in May and June alone. Plenty more during the summer and into October. Stoke Bruerne has a canal carol festival and Christmas market each year in December. Pick a festival, any festival….wet or dry.
At the end of this week, we’re off to The Crick Boat Show in….Crick. We were there last year, but with a year of boating under our collective belts, my best friend and I are looking forward to getting what we need this year. I have made a list and I’ve checked it twice. Stuff about wood burning stoves, motors, windows, fridges, lights, storage and so much more. We’ll be busy the whole three days of this Bank Holiday weekend. Ricky was fun. Crick is work.
Meanwhile, back at Ricky, my best best friend was searching for a new handbag. Not just any handbag. It had to be made of cloth, not leather or synthetics, have a zipper to close the top end, ample pockets (with zips) outside and inside to compartmentalise her various necessary items. And it had to be colourful without being gaudy. The search for the perfect bag has spawned a life of its own. Even when a bag is purchased, it is found wanting within a few weeks of use. I won’t go into the reasons. I’m sure many of you women out there must empathise with her plight and her quest.
It helped that we were with our boat neighbours, Eddie and Miriam. Miriam lives to shop and is a professional bargain hunter. And she has great taste. Eddie thinks she over shops. After all, we live on narrowboats. To keep the peace, we and they are searching for a cheap place to rent for all our extra stuff….a garage or some such room. We hit all the hippy wear stalls. My best friend saw one she thought would do, but we had to make sure. We ended up at the stall where she began the search. The right bag was found and all was right with the world….at least for a couple of weeks.
I leave you with the strangest part of the day….no, not the Star Wars storm trooper. It was on one of the lakes hidden from the festival. Behind a very tall hedge and fence were wooded paths and two small lakes, a world unto itself. A bizarre moment for me. I’ll let you be the judge if you think it is too. And maybe not so much bizarre as extraneous.